Japan is on my mind and in my life right now. Recall that I watched the film “The Last Samurai” a few weeks ago. I then watched it with the director’s, Edward Zwick’s, commentary the other day. I had a cry-fest the first time, and was utterly touched and in love with samurai even more so than I already had been – I’d respected their skills and revered them as a whole function of class – and then I had a mind-whooshing wonderful exploration and discovery with the second, specifically leading me to appreciate even more the talents and passions of 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe*, the man who plays the lead samurai in the film and who plays ‘the Japanese English-speaking character’ in almost every Hollywood film these days – a man I’d already appreciated for his acting skills in “Inception” and other Hollywood films**. And so, here I am, weeks after first watching the film, and I’m still thinking about the samurai, and I’ve added 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe).
Therefore, when selecting what to wear for today that was unique and warm – the weather is suddenly chilly here, though it was genuinely hot and humid two days ago – I settled on one of my haori (use 羽織 to search online and get the right pictures on Google), the sort of winter jacket piece for kimono***. The half turtle neck I usually wear with it was unfindable, and so I selected something else that was the same color, but textured really neatly (and then found the other shirt, but preferred the textured one, anyway).
That’s all my own conscious doing.
Today at work/school, the classroom we were using for the yearbook class for which I was subbing was an English classroom. I happen to sit in a student desk, instead of the teacher’s, and what is directly in front of me?
I asked the students what book possibly was being read that had this on the board, and they concluded that it was a history book. That is, students had merely used the board in the classroom during a free period, and had put up notes in preparation for a test or quiz in history class that was on that time period. I was totally ready to read whatever novel it had been for English class, though… Oh, well…
And then, this evening, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with my mom – her having the intention to read and I to work on my paper for school, but both of us kind of just chatting and catching up on things for the first almost-hour – explaining my outfit to her, one that she has declared to be genuinely great in terms of style and in terms of how it looked on me (and which multiple people had done throughout the day, including people who never comment on my outfits, which was really funny and cool all at the same time), and it turns out that the textured shirt I’d selected, though I hadn’t realized it when I’d selected it, was also from Japan. I’d just remembered that I hadn’t worn it yet, but had been wanting to for a long time, and just hadn’t found the right situation and clothing combination, and had genuinely forgotten that it, too, was from Japan. My mother, as we chuckled about the specific funky shop where I’d bought said shirt, then says that, ‘See, there are things you really liked about Japan.’
I agreed with her entirely, and mentioned how I know I want to go back and visit plenty; I’m just not so sure about ever even considering living and working there again. However, I’ve just had a lot of Japan on my mind lately. Learning about 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe) and his language situation for the filming of “The Last Samurai”, made me consider whether I could be that kind of person in Japan, in Japanese film. I have a natural tendency to pick up on accent quite well, and Japanese was no exception to this for me. Could I go back and model and act successfully? It’s definitely possible, but is it very likely? Could I get the visa to give it a go, even? Hmm… These are the thoughts that have been on my mind the past few days (though not for the first time). I want to go back to Japan, but I also want to have something to do while there, even though I’ll only be visiting, technically.
And so, I suspect that I’ll just keep this all in mind, and, eventually, I’ll find a way back to Japan (and have a spectacular time while there). Perhaps, either here or there, I’ll find a way to meet 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe). Maybe he’ll let me do an interview with him. That would be stellar. And possibly a really good idea. Hmm… Well, we’ll see. For now, I’m just surrounded by Japan, intentionally, unintentionally, and even from outside sources… and I kind of like it…
*Yes, the Japanese version is with the last name first, read Watanabe Ken. And I tend to say it that way now, though I didn’t do it intentionally and I didn’t used to do it. I guess it is just automatic for me now, after having lived in Japan, to say a Japanese name ‘Japanese style’, so to speak. In my head, every time, I say “Watanabe Ken-san”, but I already tend to leave out the -san with people who don’t understand it, and so the same happens with 渡辺 謙.
**When hearing what Edward Zwick had to say in the commentary of “The Last Samurai”, it had me question if that film had been 渡辺 謙’s (Ken Watanabe’s) first real role in a Hollywood film, thinking that it quite likely must have been. I found it amazing, because I feel like I’ve known him as an actor for so long, that it must have been before 2003 that I first saw him. After some consideration, though, I realized that, seeing as how 2003 was 15 years ago, it did actually make sense. Sure enough, after dong a bit of checking, it seems that “The Last Samurai”, in 2003, indeed, was his first Hollywood film.
***Fun Fact: Kimono literally means “wearing thing” or “thing one wears”.